Best Over Ear Noise-Cancelling Headphones

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Here you will find some useful tips on how to choose the best over ear noise cancelling headphones. Such a task might be pretty complicated since there are plenty of them on the market and their prices vary a lot. That's why I decided to take a closer look at some popular models and find out why they are chosen by thousands of people all over the world.

On the list below you will find descriptions of products from the most famous brands and it will let you make your own conclusion about what device is perfect for you. Each pair of headphones that is mentioned here has an over ear wearing style and supports Active Noise Cancellation. It means you will not have to turn up the volume in order to block out the world and in this way, keep your hearing intact. This is simply a magical function that allows you to enjoy favorite tracks even in a super noisy environment. So, keep reading if you are looking for a universal appliance that can be used while you are traveling, commuting, or just standing in some crowded place. Over ear headphones are pretty famous for their comfort and durability, therefore this comparison is fully dedicated to them.

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Budget (under $200)

Sennheiser HD 4.50 BTNC - best budget

Our rating
8.1/10

Sennheiser HD 4.50 BTNC

I am going to start with this closed-back device that can be used either as wireless or wired. These budget headphones can work up to 19 hours after 2 hours of charging. As you read about Sennheiser HD 4.50 BTNC, then they have a noise cancelling function. Keep in mind that if you turn it off, then the battery life extends to 25 hours. In addition, the headphones support aptX.

When it comes to technical features, the headphones have 18 Ohm of impedance. Their sensitivity is 113 dB. Another important thing to mention is the frequency response 18 Hz - 22 kHz. These over ear Bluetooth noise cancelling headphones are quite light as they weigh 238 g.

Sound

As the appliance has Bluetooth profile aptX, you can get high-quality audio. Bass-lovers will definitely enjoy the amount of bass here. Despite the fact that the sound profile of the Sennheiser HD 4.50 BTNC has a well-balanced bass, the device is slightly overemphasized in the high and middle frequencies, which sometimes leads to the fact that some instruments and vocals sound harsh. Sennheiser HD 4.50 BTNC

Key specs

  • Enclosure: closed back
  • Impedance, Ohm: 18
  • Frequency response: 18Hz-22KHz
  • Sensitivity, dB: 113
  • Weight, g/oz: 238/8.4
  • Battery life, hrs: 19
  • aptX: yes
  • aptX HD: no
  • Official website
  • Full specs

Pros

  • The ear cushions are soft and comfortable
  • The cord actually twists in and locks, therefore if you drop the device, it gives a chance for the cord to catch them before they hit the floor
  • The earcup-mounted controls are intuitive
  • Plastic and synthetic leather on pillows and the strap under the headband are very solid
  • Seals very well against outside noise
  • You can easily adjust the sound to the most appropriate with the CapTune smartphone app

Cons

  • Ear cups are not breathable

Mid-price (under $300)

Jump to

Sony WH-H900N - best for the money

Our rating
9.3/10

Sony WH-H900N

Let me introduce you to the closed-back headphones that have 103 dB of sensitivity. These headphones can be used without a wire but a free-listening battery mode is available. Their frequency response is great since the considered appliance works in a range of 5 Hz - 40 kHz. The device has an average impedance which is 32 Ohm. Using voice control, the user can call Siri and Google Assistant. It is definitely worth to be mentioned that the around ear noise cancelling headphones support Bluetooth 4.1 and NFC. Its battery life is pretty long since the headphones deliver a sound for 28 hours. And if you switch this function off, then they can work up to 34 hours. Consider that before you have to charge the appliance for 6 hours.

Sound

Music playback is crisp and clear with decent bass. There is a bit of a rise in the upper bass region which almost makes them sound bloated. Overall, the bass you get with this appliance thumps with no overpowering the instruments in the mid-range. Sony WH-H900N has a very relaxed sound signature. If you do not like how the WH-H900N sounds out of the box, just change the equalizer settings using Sony’s mobile app. Sony WH-H900N

Key specs

  • Enclosure: closed back
  • Impedance, Ohm: 32
  • Frequency response: 5Hz-40KHz
  • Sensitivity, dB: 103
  • Weight, g/oz: 290/10.2
  • Battery life, hrs: 28
  • aptX: yes
  • aptX HD: yes
  • Official website
  • Full specs

Pros

  • Can be easily folded
  • The soundproof technology of the headphone is simply great
  • Features LDAC for the transmission of high-resolution audio content
  • As the headphones have very wide frequency range, you get a detailed sound reproduction
  • The “Quick Attention” feature allows you to hear what people around you are talking about
  • Features touch sensors to play and skip tracks and adjusting volume that actually saves a lot of time

Cons

  • Comes without airplane adapter
  • The earpads can get warm during a long period of listening

Jabra Elite 85h

Our rating
7.5/10

Jabra Elite 85h

This device has such a nice feature as water resistance. The headphones are wireless and closed-back. However, the appliance comes with an audio cable, so it can be used as wired as well. The wire of Jabra Elite 85h is 120 cm long. Speaking of their frequency response, it is 10 Hz - 20 kHz. This device with a built-in microphone is relatively light since it weighs 296 g/10.4 oz. The level of noise cancelling can be adjusted. Jabra Elite 85h supports Bluetooth 5.0. Its battery life is 36 hours which is quite long. And if you do not use the noise cancelling option, then the headphones can work for about 41 hours. For volume control and other functions, you have built-in buttons.

Sound

They provide a very lifelike and immersive sound. Instruments come through with the incredibly clear separation. The bass produced by the appliance maintains power but remains pretty smooth and unmuddled, and vocals are very crisp and accentuated. Their bass is punchy enough, and some of you may prefer the small extra thump that can be heard in low-bass for bass-heavy music. Jabra Elite 85h

Key specs

  • Enclosure: closed back
  • Impedance, Ohm: N/A
  • Frequency response: 10Hz-20KHz
  • Sensitivity, dB: N/A
  • Weight, g/oz: 295/10.4
  • Battery life, hrs: 28
  • aptX: no
  • aptX HD: no
  • Official website
  • Full specs

Pros

  • The fabric on its ear cups and headband are implemented quite well and feels really smooth to the touch
  • You can manually adjust the EQ settings
  • One-button access to Google Assistant, Alexa and Siri voice assistants
  • Automatically stop working when you take them off
  • The company made it possible to set the device to automatically mute the microphones when you take it off the head in the middle of a phone conversation
  • The earpads clamp down just enough to create a good seal

Cons

  • If you have particularly large ears they may be slightly crunched by the ear cups
  • Performs fairly differently on different users, especially in the treble range

Premium (under $500)

Jump to

Sony WH1000XM3 - best premium

Our rating
9.6/10

Sony WH1000XM3

These premium wireless headphones from Sony are closed-back. The headphones support aptX HD and NFC. They have an incredibly wide frequency response which is 4 Hz - 40 kHz. The next feature worth mentioning is their sensitivity — 104 dB. If you are wondering about impedance, it is 16 Ohm. With this model of headphones, you can talk on Skype or make cell calls since it has a microphone. Sony WH1000XM3 is equipped with nice-looking built-in buttons and has voice control as well. So, for skipping a track or using the play/pause function you can just call Siri or Google Assistant. One of the benefits of this device is Bluetooth 4.2 support. Their battery life is pretty solid as the appliance works up to 30 hours. In addition, if you do not need to block surrounding noise and turn the ANC off, then the rechargeable battery will last about 38 hours. But keep in mind that it takes 3 hours to charge it. The weight of the device is 380 g/13.4 oz. You get an audio cable with the considered headphones which means you can use them as wired.

Sound

It provides a very open and spacious sound that lets every instrument vocal room breathe. With this pair of headphones, you will get nice treble, warm, natural midrange, and bass that was deep but also defined. Tonally, there is a generous extra helping of lovely, extremely deep bass, which helps the WH-1000XM3s produce a great sound. Overall, the model is great-sounding for a Bluetooth pair and sounds clear and open. Sony WH1000XM3

Key specs

  • Enclosure: closed back
  • Impedance, Ohm: 16
  • Frequency response: 4Hz-40KHz
  • Sensitivity, dB: 104
  • Weight, g/oz: 380/13.4
  • Battery life, hrs: 30
  • aptX: yes
  • aptX HD: yes
  • Official website
  • Full specs

Pros

  • You can fold the headphones and carry with you anywhere
  • Sony WH1000XM3 App has tons of customization possible
  • Has a battery level indicator
  • As it has great noise cancelling in the lower frequencies, the appliance does a great job at reducing the low rumble of the airplane
  • Has a USB-C port which is a more robust connection when compared to micro USB and far less likely to wear out/break
  • Comes with a nice case for carrying

Cons

  • Your ears can get warm inside the ear cups

Sennheiser Momentum 3

Our rating
8.6/10

Sennheiser Momentum 3

This is a wonderful-looking pair of modern closed-back headphones. Their frequency response is 6 Hz - 22 kHz which allows you to hear a lot of details while listening to music. With regard to sensitivity, it is 99 dB. The last technical feature I would like to mention is impedance which is 100 Ohm. These are the best over ear wireless noise cancelling headphones, however remember that you get them with a cable, therefore there is a free-battery listening mode too.

The device is quite light, it has only 305 g/10.8 oz. It is equipped with a built-in microphone for making cell calls. Sennheiser Momentum 3 has several levels of noise cancelling. You can download a special app for changing some settings of this appliance. Also, it is really great that the Momentum 3 has voice control which allows to use Google Assistant and Siri. Speaking of wireless connectivity, you will get Bluetooth 5.0 with the appliance. Moreover, it supports aptX HD and NFC. The pretty long battery life makes the headphones appropriate for those people who want to use the Momentum 3 for traveling or going to work since it works about 17 hours after 3 hours of charging.

Sound

Are you looking for the best noise cancelling over ear headphones right now? These sound admirably, with a good balance between thumpy, very delicate bass, nice warm mids, and absolutely non-fatiguing highs. There is a great level of bass which you can adjust from the equalizer within the accompanying Sennheiser app. Sennheiser measures the volume levels accurately to ensure as little distortion as possible when listening at max volume. Sennheiser Momentum 3

Key specs

  • Enclosure: closed back
  • Impedance, Ohm: 100
  • Frequency response: 6Hz-22KHz
  • Sensitivity, dB: 99
  • Weight, g/oz: 305/10.7
  • Battery life, hrs: 30
  • aptX: yes
  • aptX HD: no
  • Official website
  • Full specs

Pros

  • Folds small for easy storage and travel
  • The earpads are made of plastic with a very soft, soft leather trim that completely covers your ears
  • You can connect to two devices at the same time
  • The classic combination of black leather and brushed metal gives the headphones a sophisticated look
  • Effective but not overbearing ANC

Cons

  • Shorter battery life than competitors

Bose QuietComfort 35 II

Our rating
8.5/10

Bose QuietComfort 35 II

Here I am going to tell you about this wireless device with a dedicated Google Assistant. It is closed-back and can be used with an audio cable. The headphones weigh 240 g/8.3 oz. They are foldable and have adjustable noise cancellation. The wire you get with the appliance is 120 cm/3.9 ft long. For control, it is quite comfortable to use built-in buttons. Also, you will have an app where it is possible to change some settings. Those who prefer voice control will be happy to know that with these headphones you can call Siri, Google Assistant, and Amazon Alexa. Its NFC support will allow you to exchange data with other appliances. Plus, Bose QuietComfort 35 II has Bluetooth 4.1.

Let's talk about the battery life of the mentioned appliance. It can work up to 20 hours after full charging that takes only 2 hours. In addition, you will have a speed charge option.

Sound

The headphones have a very neutral frequency response, which is great for tinkerers. While their bass range is slightly over-emphasized, this adds a bit of extra warmth and thump and isn't overpowering. Lows are definitely given preference over everything else. Mids are clean with vocals coming through loud and clear. Bose QuietComfort 35 II

Key specs

  • Enclosure: closed back
  • Impedance, Ohm: N/A
  • Frequency response: N/A
  • Sensitivity, dB: N/A
  • Weight, g/oz: 240/8.3
  • Battery life, hrs: 20
  • aptX: no
  • aptX HD: no
  • Official website
  • Full specs

Pros

  • Talking to the Google Assistant is instant — as soon as you press the button they start listening
  • Noise cancelling comes in three levels: high, low, or off
  • Amazing solid clarity for phone calls
  • Can be paired with multiple devices at once
  • You can wear these for a long time without any feeling like you need to take them off to let your ears breathe

Cons

  • You necessarily need to use Spotify in order for Google Assistant to work
  • Quick-charge does not give you much playing time

Bowers & Wilkins PX

Our rating
8.1/10

Bowers & Wilkins PX

These are closed-back headphones which battery gives you 22 hours of active use from a single charge. They have 111 dB of sensitivity. Their frequency range is from 10 Hz to 20 kHz. Audiophiles are usually wondering about impedance which is 22 Ohm in this case. The mentioned pair of headphones is not heavy since its weight is 335 g/11.8 oz. Bowers & Wilkins PX also has several microphones with a very clear sound of the voice. The three kinds of noise cancelling – office, city, and flight – do their job well. The headphones support aptX.

Sound

Bowers & Wilkins PX offers powerful audio performance with rich bass and crisp highs. The angled drivers create a strikingly full and detailed sound stage. Orchestral tracks sound pretty solid. The vocals and synth keyboard are well-matched on the headphones. Bowers & Wilkins PX

Key specs

  • Enclosure: closed back
  • Impedance, Ohm: 22
  • Frequency response: 10Hz-20KHz
  • Sensitivity, dB: 111
  • Weight, g/oz: 335/11.8
  • Battery life, hrs: 22
  • aptX: yes
  • aptX HD: yes
  • Official website
  • Full specs

Pros

  • Feels very solid, substantial without feeling heavy, and there is no head-in-a-vice feeling
  • You can easily change the sensitivity of the smart sensors embedded in the ear cups using the Wear Sensor portion
  • Stunning, durable design
  • The Active Noise Cancelling performs well against the neverending din of city living
  • Stops playing automatically when you take it off

Cons

  • NC changes audio performance noticeably
  • Lack of padding on the headband

How do active noise-cancelling headphones work?

The noise cancelling technology is used for blocking ambient noise and letting the person enjoy music tracks. Thanks to it, you do not need to make the volume higher in order to get a clear sound without any interruption. On the list above, you can choose best over the ear noise cancelling headphones which you can use simply everywhere. For instance, in the open-plan office, it eliminates the constant chatter and limits interruptions. Each pair of headphones here is checked by me. Do you wanna know the way noise cancelling works? The headphones with such a function have special components that make it possible to block the surrounding sounds. There are three of them:

Microphone for recognizing the noise

Noise-cancelling circuitry that makes a noise-cancelling wave. So, basically, you are surrounded by this wave which protects you from the irritating noise Battery, since the noise cancelling option, works only with a battery

Some manufacturers offer headphones with only one level of noise cancellation, while others provide an opportunity to adjust it.

Active noise cancellation (ANC) vs. passive noise isolation

If you have plans to buy a wireless pair of headphones, then you will be faced with the question of which device is better, with active or passive noise isolation. To make the right choice, you have to know all the pros and cons of each option. You already know what is active isolation, so I will shortly explain what the passive one is. It depends mostly on the headphone construction since the device with thicker padding, and ear cups that are adjacent snugly to your ears, reduce the biggest amount of noise, passively. It is not that effective as active isolation but the passive way of noise reduction does not need any power. Also, such headphones are usually cheaper. Well, but why do most audiophiles prefer appliances with active noise cancelling? The point is that the headphones with passive isolation will never offer you the same excellent result as a pair of headphones with active noise cancellation. So, if you want to hear 100% clear music, a device with ANC is a perfect option.

What are over ear headphones

Such models of headphones are placed around the ears and the sound goes directly from speaker to ear without touching it. This type of headphones is able to provide audio with the highest quality. With such a device you will get the sound that is closest to natural. Passive noise isolation is one of the benefits you automatically get with a pair of closed-back over ear headphones. However, if it is open-back, the sound is going to leak a lot. This type of headphones is very often used by professional musicians and sound engineers. They are also incredibly comfortable for long-term listening.

When you are choosing over ear headphones, consider the material they are made of. A super important thing to mention is the foldable design since it is gonna take much less space and be good for carrying. The thing is that earpads produced of velour or synthetics can make your ears get warm or sweat. Much better choice would be real or artificial leather.

Over ear headphones pros and cons

Pros

  • Spacious soundstage, especially if they are open-back
  • Comfortable fit that is fantastic for long listening sessions
  • When it comes to pure sound quality, a high-end pair of over-the-ears headphones is second to none
  • Often offers passive noise reduction

Cons

  • Can be too bulky for carrying
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